Coping after losing a loved one unexpectedly

Grief is hard. Grief will always be hard, but knowing how to manage your feelings of grief is important. It isn’t easy dealing with loss, especially when that loss is unexpected. An unexpected loss is exceedingly difficult to deal with, as coming to terms with your new reality can be difficult to do. 

Grief is an emotion so strong that it can knock you off your feet. It can completely and totally consume you. It can make you feel like there’s no future – like the whole world has ended and you will never feel happy again. It’s incomparable to anything else, and it’s completely awful. 

What it’s important to understand is that you will find a way forward and move out of how you are feeling right now. It won’t be easy but you will learn to manage your grief and live your life despite your loss. 

To help you to navigate the grieving process, we’ve put together a guide to a few useful tips that may help to make managing your feelings a little easier. 

Understand that there’s no right way to grieve 

When it comes to the loss of a loved one, it’s important to understand that there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Whatever you are feeling is valid. However you want to grieve is normal. 

If you want to cry all day long, that’s perfectly fine. Equally, if you don’t shed a single tear that’s also perfectly fine. Grief affects everyone differently, while one person may be unable to get out of bed, another may be physically unable to sit still. 

Grieve in whatever way feels right for you. Don’t put pressure on yourself to behave in a certain way, do what comes naturally to you. 

There’s no shame in seeking help 

Often, one of the hardest parts of dealing with grief is coping with the waves that the feeling comes in. One moment you will be perfectly fine, the next you will feel the loss wash over you all over again. Grieving is like swimming in the sea; one moment the water is calm and smooth, the next an unexpected wave washes over your head. It’s unexpected and every wave hits you hard. 

Coping with this constant influx of waves of grief can be difficult and is one of the top reasons why people choose to seek professional bereavement help and support. Being able to talk through what happened to your loved one is a key aspect of the grieving process. Talking is important, it helps to manage your grief and makes coping a little easier. 

Talking can also help you to understand what you want to do moving forward and how you need to process what’s happened. For instance, say a loved one went into hospital for a routine procedure but something went wrong and you believe the hospital and the doctors who treated them were negligent, in order to move forward you might need a legal service for wrongful death matters to work with. You would only determine that this is what you needed by going to therapy and talking your feelings through. 

Moving forward doesn’t mean moving on 

When a loved one has passed away it’s easy to feel like moving on is in some way betraying their memory, that moving on is a sign that you didn’t care about them. But this isn’t the case at all – moving forward doesn’t mean moving on from the person you loved, it simply means moving your life forward. 

The person you have lost will always be a part of your life, no matter how much your life changes. You can move forward without moving on from the person you have lost – you will never move on from them as they will always be a part of who you are, so there’s no need to feel guilty about taking steps forward. 

Allow yourself to grow with your grief 

Grief experts used to believe that when a loved one passes away, your whole life would be overtaken by grief – there wouldn’t be an area of your life not touched by that grief. They believed that over time, the grief felt would shrink, until it became a small spot in your life. 

However, the thinking has now changed, and instead experts believe that when a loved one passes away, your whole life is overtaken by grief, and that over time your grief doesn’t shrink – it stays the same size – instead your life grows around that grief. 

It’s important to allow yourself to grow with your grief. Understand that you will always carry your grief with you, but that over time your life will grow around it.

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